Leap Day

The thing about time is that you can’t get it back.

All those minutes, hours I spend on Facebook are gone for good.  All those days I postponed this thing or that thing will not come back around.  Every single minute that I did not live thankful?  Those minutes are wasted, gone.

Today is Leap Day and it’s a day that only comes around every four years.  It’s a big deal, because it’s a special day, it’s unusual.  I tried to think of some cool thing we could do today and nothing came to mind.  I thought I might let it go, but my inner me said, it’s LEAP DAY!  It only comes around once every four years.

Then I realized.  Every single day only comes around once.  Tomorrow is March 1, 2012.  Its the only March 1, 2012 there is ever going to be.  There won’t be another day.  Every single day is something special and unique.  Every single day only comes around once.  Ever.

So…how will I spend these days?

Last night I dreamed about my grandmother.  She is Paw…the only true Proverbs 31 woman I’ve ever seen…a woman who has loved and served Jesus with all her heart, mind, soul and strength.  She has loved sacrificially, she has lived thankful, she has praised Him no matter what.  She has suffered with Parkinson’s for around nineteen years and it’s reached the point that the Parkinson’s is winning.

When she goes into the arms of Jesus…oh how we will mourn.  There’s just no one like her.

I woke up from the dream because there was a small face next to bed saying, “I dreamed I stepped on a nail and I’m going to keep on dreaming that unless you let me sleep in here.”

I laid awake, staring at the ceiling, listening to deep, sleepy breathing.

I feel conviction.

I’ve wasted time with my Paw.  There are so many days that I would love to get back.  Days when I’ve thought, “I want to go see Paw.” but I didn’t go for whatever reason.  The regret slices deep into my heart and I mourn those days when I could’ve gone and heard her stories, hugged her tight and just been with her.  And it’s not too late, I can (and will) go and see her and sit with her.  But I weep for those days that I’ve lost now that the days left are so few.

How can we give every day it’s due?  These days come and they are the only one like them.  How can we honor the One who gives us these days?  How best to live?

 

 
1. Honor. Give respect and value to those in your path. The ones you love and the ones you don’t love. The ones you see every day and the ones cutting you off in traffic. Honor.
2. Forgive. Forgive anyone you have an offense with and ask them to forgive you. Forgiveness goes so much further and is so much more beneficial than bitterness.
3. Selfless living. Put others first. The very best way to get your needs met and to love well is to put others ahead of yourself.
4. Live thankful. Start the joy dare. List your blessings. Say Thank You to Him every day for every little thing.
5. Believe Him. He is not a man that He should lie. He speaks truth and truth only. He will do all that He says He will do.

And…go hug your grandmother today. I’m going to go and see mine.

This is the Body

Community:  a unified body of individuals

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Lila has preschool.  I pick her up at 12:30.  She bounds out of her classroom with blonde hair flying smiling big.  Seconds after our reunion hug, she’ll say, “Who is at our house?”

She always wants to know.  Who do we get to see today?

At four and a half, she understands the importance of community.  And she loves her community.

Tonight, we went to our new community group at our new church for the second time.  We are digging in at Waters Edge.  We are all in.

It was good.  I’m anxious to see what’s next on our horizon.  This season of pruning and change has been painful and beautiful all at once.

We drive home, chatting about this and chatting about that and my mind is on community.  I am still thinking about community as I come into the house and thank Aubrey for caring for little sisters and a crazy dog in our absence.

I’ve said this before and I say it again now…we are rich in community.

Our family is a big, beautiful community.  We are blessed on both sides- parents that love us, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins…family.  We know about unconditional love and support and grace.  We know because our families show us unconditional love and support and grace every day.  We are not alone.

We have friends.  Friends on both sides of the water, friends from our old church, friends from the neighborhood.  This weekend, we gathered with three different groups of friends.  Old friends on Friday night, friends to laugh with, remember with and laugh with some more.  Friends on Saturday to play cards with while kids run wild and happy.  Friends on Sunday, friends to eat with and pray with and tell and hear stories with.  All of these friends…iron sharpening iron.

And now we have a new community.  A new community of believers to do life with, to love Jesus with, to be the bride with.  We will be the body with this new community.  We have jumped in with both feet and we are all in.

We are not alone.  We are never alone because God designed us to know and be known.  He has given us each other.  He has given us each other to love well, to serve, to sharpen.  We must be the body and love each other well.  That means putting ourselves out there.  That means going the extra mile for each other.  That means that we meet the needs of other first and ourselves last.  We practice JOY.

Jesus First
Others Second
Yourself Last

Oh Lord, let me be one who loves well.  One who does community well.  One who serves others.

Jesus, make me more like you.

Scratching the Surface of How To Love Well

God has given me five answers on how to love well and I want to share them with you.

1. Honor

The importance of honor was made real to me over the summer when we went to the Wave Leadership conference in Virginia Beach. I have since listened to Kevin Gerald’s podcasts on honor.  My heart was stirred and even torn a little as I thought about the ways I honor and dishonor.
You can click here to hear for yourself. Kevin Gerald

2. Forgiveness

I have learned a lot about forgiveness as I’ve moved through the stages of grief in the wake of my divorce. I’ve learned that forgiveness is more about the one who’s been wronged than the one who has hurt us. Forgiveness is key to letting go of bitterness and living life whole and full.

3. Selflessness

This one is big. We must put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the epitome of honor and love. When we serve the ones He loves, we are serving Him.

4. Thankfulness
Have I mentioned “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and the joy dare? I’ll mention it again…just in case. This book and this dare have changed my inner voice. They’ve changed my heart, my mind and my spirit. I have gained so much from reading this book and learning to live thankful…God has used these tools mightily.

5. Believing God
Oh, my friends and readers, this is The One. We have to believe Him when He says who He is, what He can do, how He loves us and what His plans are. He is believable…and it is key.

So, I’m mulling over these five things. There is so much there that I am almost overwhelmed. I think I could write 365 blog posts about each piece of the puzzle.

He is Doing a New Thing

My bed is nothing special.

It doesn’t even have a headboard.  Just a metal frame and a comfy mattress.  Soft brown jersey sheets and lots of pillows.  Two warm quilts that we are both always too hot to really be under.  But at the end of a long, long day…it’s the most welcoming and wonderful place in the world.

In my room, in my bed, with two fans turning and piles of laundry that need folding, John and I talk about our life and the world.

We are energized right now about our ministry to our home and our family, about our ministry to love well.  At some point in our conversation he said, “We can’t just wait for things to change, we have to live the life we have right now, not just wait for the life we want in the future.”

We’ve been feeling this call together.

This morning broke over sleepy eyes and weary bodies.  I awoke early…not as early as John but earlier than I want.  It’s going to be a busy one, even more busy than most.  Our village is coming together to help me make appointments and a house needs to be cleaned and this is a weekend filled with activities and friends.  Last night I said, “The marathon starts tomorrow, so wake me up before you leave for work.”

He brought me coffee and was on his way, that hour drive he makes every morning usually before my eyes open.

I sip coffee and appreciate the comfort of my bed.  I open up the laptop and go to Facebook and see what my friends are doing.  Two friends up in the night with newborns.  One friend trying to figure out how to raise money for a daughter to study abroad.  This friend went to bed thankful, counting blessings instead of sheep.  That friend is anxious to get back home from Texas.  Another friend posts this, “Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be in my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment.*”

It makes me smile at Him who knows all, sees all and is holding all.  This is just what John and I were talking about last night and this is just what I’ve been thinking about all week and this is just what I want to write about.

I am a believer in figuring out the roots of things.  I am often anxious.  Why?  Is there a root from my past?  Not just my childhood or adolescence but even the recent past.  I am often worried about acceptance.  Why?  What seed was planted in a fragile seedbed, watered with misfortune and left to grown unimpeded?  Show me, Lord.

But, once that root is discovered, it’s best to yank it out, ask God to plant new things and move forward.  This has been more than a decade long journey for me.  And on this journey, I have learned you can not walk forward when looking back.

If my eyes are focused on the sorrow of my divorce, I can’t be present in the marriage I have now.  If my heart is still back in September, entwined in the agony of my miscarriage, I am not present with the five I have to love today.  We grieve.  We must grieve.  Grief can not be pushed down or ignored…but it’s not grief I mean.  I mean, let go of the “if onlys” and the “what ifs”.

Yesterday, I went to see a brand new baby.  He was born on Tuesday.  I looked into a face I’d been praying for since I’d learned of his conception.  I listened to the story of his arrival.  I was present with him.  It was a Good Life Moment.  Suddenly Claire barrels over, and says, “Mama.”  very indignantly.  She was jealous.  I had a sudden remembrance that I’m supposed to be six weeks from having my own tiny, wrinkled, swaddled bundle.  I looked at her and I looked at the new baby and I did have a pang of regret and even sorrow.  I felt that and even said to the new baby’s mother, “Can you imagine having Claire and this new baby at once?  I’m only six weeks away from my due date with the baby I lost.”  It was intermingled in the moment, because it’s part of my life…but it wasn’t my focus.  I lived the moment of meeting Colin, right in the here and now.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell in the past.   See, I am doing a new thing,  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

At the same time, you can not see the right now if you’re only looking ahead to what might or might not be.  Life can not be lived, here, in this moment that you can’t get back unless you are in this moment.  I don’t mean don’t make plans for the future.  I mean, don’t put life on hold while you wait for this to happen or for that to happen.

This is a bigger struggle for John and I, I think.  Because we are always looking ahead to when it’s going to be better that we are not good stewards of what we have in our hands today.  This is the area God is working on with us.  So, no, we will not wait until we have a better car or until we move again or until the summer…we will do what we’re supposed to do right now.

The fruit from hearing God on this has been beautiful.  We are really living fully right now.  Even though we are so busy and we have such a long way to go to be refined…we are living life.  Our Sunday night Bible studies with our family are the highlight of my week.  Our servanthood in our new church is fulfilling and wonderful.  Even purging the house and brining organization to our environment has been freeing.  God is blessing us.  He wants us to be present in every moment.

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 28-34

I remember manna.  Every day, God would dump manna from heaven to His hungry people.  They were to take enough for that day.  They were not to store it up for the week or the month or the year.  Just enough for that day.  Because He would send more the next day.  When the people did not heed this instruction, the manna rotted.  What was sustaining and a good gift one day, turned to rubbish overnight.

The thing about the right now is that it’s full of good gifts.  Big gifts and small gifts.  There is blessing in obedience, there is satisfaction that comes from honoring today and right now.  If I am looking backward or way up ahead, my eyes can not land on the beauty of right now.  Every day passes by and it passes by very quickly and you can’t get it back.

The way I write is a funny thing.  I will sit down with my laptop and type out the one sentence God gives me.  He always gives me just one…and the rest of it just kind of falls out as I go.  These words are gifts to me from Him and I am grateful, so grateful for each and every one.  Writing these words…it’s indescribable the work it’s doing in my heart.

Today’s sentence was, “My bed is nothing special.”  And I am thinking as I type it, “Where are You going with this?”  And it’s so funny how it all ties together.

My bed is nothing special.  But this morning, I appreciate it.  This morning, in the early light, I am living the moments of good bye kisses and typing out words and listening for the house to wake up.  This morning, when I’m up earlier than I want to be, I’m not looking forward or looking back.  I’m here.  Right here, in my comfy, not very special but beloved bed.  I’m here.  Seeing the gift of this moment.

Julia and Aubrey- living the gift of the moment

*It is Lysa TerKeurst’s quote, borrowed from Jen Cameron’s page.  Jen, you inspire me every day with your faith.  Thank you for being you.  

Endings and a Beginning

I am the sort of person who panics long after the emergency is over.  A person who mourns some time after the emergency of the loss has ended.  A person who processes catastrophe after it has passed.

I think this is part of my mother-ness.  I have to be able to compartmentalize enough to get through the emergency, the loss, the catastrophe.

I remember Hurricane Isabel which was a kick off to a very hard season.  The Hurricane came and washed over two feet of my house, leaving us with three kids, three cats, one dog and no place to live.  I remember going to the house, working hard all day trying to salvage things and just Getting Through It.  I did not cry as I looked at our possessions, water logged and molding.  I just saved what I could save and threw away what I couldn’t.   Weeks later, we were settled into an apartment and I laid awake and wept…pictures of the carpet rolled up, frames of family members ruined, my children’s toys destroyed.  The catastrophe had passed…but I mourned.

Very shortly after the crisis of the Hurricane, my sister gave birth to her first child, my niece.  What was supposed to be a time of celebration became an emergency.  She had complications from her c-section that her made her gravely ill.  About a week or so after the baby was born, we were told to come and see her…or we might not get another chance.  She was in the hospital for such a long time.  I steeled my heart and did what I had to do.  Nearly daily I drove to Norfolk to spend time with my sister and the rest of the family, to stand with my brother in law and to love on my new niece.  Some nights, I brought my little niece home with me.  It was uneasy, and it was stressful but I got through it.  I did what had to be done.  The day my sister called to say that she was being released from the hospital, I fell on my bed and cried and cried.  Relief, grief for what she has missed with her daughter, fear, anxiety, worry…it all came out then.  After it was all over.

Bethany and Eden in 2011

Less than a month after Bethany’s discharge from the hospital…something else happened. Our dear friend, A.C. was in a car accident and after ten days in that same Norfolk hospital…she slipped into the arms of Jesus.  And I don’t have enough words to say what A.C. meant to me. She was a younger sister, a partner in crime and a treasure. I loved her, my children loved her, the community loved her. She was the sort of person who made you laugh until your sides hurt. She loved fully and lived big. She was rare. I think of Enoch, who was such a joy to the Lord that he was just taken up to heaven. This was A.C. She died and I went into crisis mode. Planning a funeral, comforting my children and tending to my flock. A.C.’s death rocked our little world. At the funeral, I cried nostalgic tears and smiled at her send off. She brought so many people together to celebrate a life that was fully lived, even though she was only twenty four. Days later, I was bustling around, getting kids ready for school. I hustled into my room, went into my closet to get a jacket and found myself in the closet floor…tears came, angry, broken sobs came. I despaired and I mourned.

This is my pattern.  Hard thing…time of work, duty, pressing through…grief.

And I find myself in this pattern again.

Lately I am reminiscing.  I find that my mind, when left to wander, wanders on over to the section of my memory marked “Hope”.  Hope was my church from 1999 until 2011.  Twelve years we walked together.  And those twelve years are cherished.  Rich with memory.  God planted, watered and grew so many good things in me over that twelve years.  It is right that I grieve the ending of this long season.

This week marked our new beginning with Waters Edge Church, a place that God practically sent us an engraved invitation to attend.  God has rarely been more clear about the path, we are where we are meant to be.  We are excited to dig in, get involved, become a part of things.  But it’s an odd thing too, because we know lots of people and we are known, but it’s also unknown. It’s new.

Sunday was my first day of serving and it was good.  It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

Monday was our first day of community group and it was good.  We’re excited to make some connections and go deeper with the Lord.

But it also underscored the ending of the season of Hope.  Making these two commitments meant that we have truly moved on, moved forward, that we are moving with the will of God.  We’re investing, and we’re expectant because we are where He called us.

And so the mourning begins.  I am full of memories and it is so bittersweet.  Thank you are the weak words I offer to God for the home and the family that He gifted me with for twelve years.  Thank you are the weak words I say to the One who grew me up and changed me in the midst of that community.  Thank you are weak, weak words for the sense of Who I Am in Him that I gained there.  My memories are fond…little jewels that I picked up along the journey.  Every memory an Ebenezer stone that marks how He’s loved me, grown me up and changed my heart and my life.

Twelve years ago, I was married to someone else.  I had a six year old, a four year old and a not quite two year old.  I was only just meeting the people I would be doing life with for a dozen years.  People I am still doing life with; because where you go to church doesn’t negate relationships.  These are the ones who walked with me through that hurricane, through my sister’s illness, through the loss of our A.C., through my bed rest pregnancy and the birth of Lila, through my separation and divorce, through my tumultuous post divorce time, through my meeting, dating and marrying John, through the birth of Claire, through court and custody stuff.  These are the ones God gave me.  He has been so good to me.

Today, I give myself permission to shed a tear or two of loss.  I will give myself a break when I pause to let a memory run its course.  Today, I will look back over the jewels and the stones of the past twelve years.  I will say that these things are Good.  That He is Good.  That He is the giver and the keeper of every gift.

I will allow myself a time to mourn, intermingled with a time of hopeful, excited expectation for what will come next.

 

The Espresso Machine

While working on our inner selves, we’ve also been doing some work on our environment and practical lives too. John has been reading Dave Ramsey and I have been reading “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh which is about purging and organizing your house.  We’ve felt such a call to get our literal and figurative houses in order for the past few months.  With the collapse of my table, the constant financial strain and just the feeling that God really wanted to call us to something deeper, we’ve been working hard at Getting It Together.

We began with working on our spiritual lives; more prayer, more tithing, more Word, more seeking, more worship, more laying down of self, more surrender.  We’ve been diligent.  Rebuilding the table of our family and our ministry.  Focus on our ministry here in our own home…that’s the ministry that God is refining and building up.  We have Good Works to do here.

It seemed odd to me that God wanted us to pause from that and start work on organization.

Because, essentially, that’s what both of these books are about.  Peter Walsh is teaching us how to make our home efficient and organized.  Dave Ramsey is teaching us to keep our money efficient and organized.

I said to God, “Why are you having me focus on this when I need to be working on my heart, on my spirit, on my soul?”

For a time, there was no answer…just the gentle prod to pursue both.  Straighten out your money and straighten out your house.  This is what you need to do, Daughter.

Get your house in order.

We put a lot of the Dave Ramsey stuff in place two weeks ago and we are really, really seeing a difference.  I recommend this book to anyone who, like us, feels like managing their finances is like trying to fit a double bed sheet on a king sized bed.

Yesterday, we began the household purge- getting rid of anything that was broken, hadn’t been used in six months or didn’t have a place.  It was harder than I expected.  Letting go of things that were perfectly nice or perfectly useful or that we might need sometime.  We got through the den, the dining room and half of the kitchen.  And the movies.  The movies took forever.

We will be back at it this morning as soon as I’m done writing the words for the day.

But I needed to say…letting go of those things, putting my house in order…it was a little bit painful.  And I was reminded of letting go of Hope Community Church and letting go of some Big Dreams I had and letting go of some baggage from my past.

As I purged the wine glasses, God was working in my heart.  It seemed that with every glass or coffee cup or movie I put in the giveaway box, my bonds were loosening.

I didn’t put it together until this morning when I was drinking my coffee and thinking of the heap of  things we’re not keeping.  Two big boxes and two big bags of surrender.  I feel free looking at those boxes and bags this morning.  I feel like things are changing.  I feel the metamorphosis.  We are getting our house in order.

Our outsides now reflect the work that’s happening on our insides.  We are clearing out junk, stuff we don’t need, things we’ve leaned on in the past.  We’re learning to prioritize and make Grown Up Decisions and let go of things that just didn’t happen.

It’s the espresso machine.  We received this lovely, expensive espresso machine as a wedding gift.  We have never, ever, not even once used it.  And that was more than two years ago.  We have these cute little cups and saucers for serving espresso, we have coffee beans, we have the know how, even…but we’ve never used it.

Espresso is Not Going to Happen.

We’ve hung on to it, just in case.  We’ve wanted to use it, but we never have.  Claire takes pieces of it and hides them behind furniture and in toy boxes.  It’s going to get ruined because we are hanging on to it but will never use it.  The only person who ever even touches it is Claire.  It’s a $100 unmet expectation and plan we’ve never followed through on.  It’s taking up space in our life, where things that we do use could be.  Just sitting there, reminding us our failure to make espresso.

The espresso machine goes.  We’re not going to make espresso.  We have to Let Go.  We don’t have the sort of life where we make espresso.  It doesn’t fit here.  It’s a great thing, it’s in great shape, it’s aesthetically pleasing…it has all the parts it needs.  But it doesn’t fit our life right now.

Craigslist ad featuring a never used espresso machine with some toddler finger prints, coming soon.

How many other things in our life are like that?  How many times have we said, “We’ll tithe when money’s not so tight.”  or “Once we get this taken care of, then we’ll be able to do this.”  or “If only we could…”  No.  It’s time to live the real life that God has given us.  It’s time to do the work He’s called us to.  No more waiting.

Becoming financially stable, making our home a place of peace and order…it’s a reflection of the changes God is doing on our insides.  Making our home easier to manage leaves more room for our ministry.

Our ministry to our six loves- Julia, Deanna, Aubrey, Chase, Lila and Claire.  Our ministry to each other.  Our ministry to love well.  To share resources, to share hospitality.

Our home is always going to be deliciously chaotic- but in the good way.  Full of loud and lively loved ones.  Caroline barking and dancing with joy at the sight of her people.  The constant swish of the washing machine.  The smell of things cooking, coffee brewing. Plastic animals in unlikely places, shoes on the stairs and coats on the banister.  Music and Veggie Tales and laughter.  This is who we are.

But getting our house in order means that we will have more time and space to laugh together, sit together, eat together.  There is less to worry about when our house is in order.  Less financial strain, less time trying to figure out where to store All These Things.  Less Stuff taking up our environment.  More room for people.

This is our beautiful God, teaching me lessons in giving up an espresso machine.  This is our beautiful, merciful God who is arranging and purging my heart just like I purged the china cabinet.  He’s taking out what is unnecessary, what is just clutter, what is never really going to be something I use.  He’s leaving what is beautiful, what is useful, what is a good gift.

This is our beautiful God, who longs for my house to be in order so that I can love well.  He never lets a moment pass by that He isn’t in it; teaching, loving and being who He is.

Now, time to start purging the book room.

I Can’t Drive No Train

Sometimes Fear comes along and knocks the wind out of me.

It is quite without warning.  Sure, sometimes it’s related to an event- like Hurricane Isabel or my divorce or when Chase was little and had that weird rash that three doctors couldn’t diagnose.  Sometimes…it just isn’t.

I don’t know why this happens.  Probably equal parts the world we live in, my tendency to over think things, my desire to control things and spiritual attack.

But sometimes…fear and anxiety just roll over me like a tidal wave.

This happened yesterday.

It took a lot of Scripture, prayer, rest and counting graces to get past.

Reasoning with my inner me did not help at all.  Stating the facts, “You are fine, you are safe, the kids are safe, John is safe, all is well.” did not help at all.

Psalm 23, it helped.  Matthew 5, it helped.  Asking God to breathe with me, that helped.  My husband taking over with the kids and dinner, that helped. Being thankful…that really helped.  I fell asleep last night naming the things I am thankful for.

(Thank you, Ann Voskamp for teaching me this lesson.  Have I mentioned this week how much you need to read the book “1000 Gifts” and have I mentioned how highly I recommend taking the The Joy Dare.)

Earlier in the week, I was remembering a word from the Lord that my friend Jessica got a few years ago.  I was wanting to blog about it, but things got in the way.  Things got in the way because God was saving it for today.  Here is what Jessica learned:

“There is a train on tracks, and there are huge boulders on the tracks. I get out of the train to try to move the boulders when the Lord tells me to get back onto the train because I AM THE BOULDERS. So, ok, I try to get back onto the train and into the engine car (I can’t remember the name of it) and the Lord asks me if I know how to drive a train. Not just metaphorically, but if I have the skill, knowledge, and power to literally drive a train. I have to admit that no, I do not, and I am sent back to my car. I can decorate my car however I like, but I can’t move the rocks, I can’t lay the track, I can’t determine how fast or slow the train goes at all. I have to trust that I have no idea where we are going, but that the Lord does and I have to be ok with that. That the tracks were laid before I was EVER ON the train. He leveled the land, planned it, and laid the track before a train ever rode on it. And here I am presuming to be able to navigate this monster on rails I’ve never even seen, with absolutely no knowledge of what to do.

Did you know that it’s extremely dangerous to attempt to operate a train without knowing how? That it could literally result in death? The Lord convicted me a LOT with that vision (and continues to do so even as I recount it for you!)

So here I am, in my car, having to admit that “I don’t know how to drive no train!” And I can close the windows and do so much self-focus and shut myself off from everything and get to a place where I forget I’m even on a train with the Lord driving, and feel like I’m getting nowhere. OR, I can open the windows, smell the wonderful air, see the trees and land passing by, let the sun come in, and enjoy the fact that I don’t have to know HOW to drive a train in order to ride it to where the Lord’s taking me.”

Jessica and I have been saying for years, “I don’t even know how to drive a train.” when we catch each other or ourselves trying to control things or trying to go our own way.  I was thinking about this in relation to my anxiety and I had a lightbulb moment.

Things are out of my control.  Life is out of my control.

I can not control who gets sick or when.  I can not control how long our lives will be.  I can not control what part Aubrey gets in the play or when Claire learns to talk.  I can not control hurricanes or my landlord or how much longer the car will run.  I can not control anything about Julia’s future or my relationship with Chase.  I can not control where John will work or what Lila will say next.  I can not control anything because all of this is out of my control.

I can’t drive a train.

And giving up trying and striving to drive the train is really, really freeing.

Thanks, Jessica.

 

 

 

That’s What Love Is

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is the way He gently reminds me that He is God and I am not.  Love is the way that He picks up my pieces when my table falls down and He shows me how to build a better one.  Love is the way that He holds my world in His hands and He never forgets me and I am never too much for Him.

The character of God’s love is, I think, so evident in Genesis 3:21.  It’s the aftermath of the whole eating from the Forbidden Tree.  It’s at the end, when all is said and done.  The Serpent has convinced Eve and her husband, who was with her, that eating from this Forbidden Tree is the better way.  Adam and Eve have eaten…their lives and their minds are immediately are changed.  They are no longer naked and unashamed, they are aware of their nakedness, aware of themselves.  I think, though it isn’t stated, that they could suddenly perceive just how unrighteous and unworthy they were.  Did they fear that He wouldn’t love them now, knowing what they’d done?

They hastily stitched together coverings from fig leaves.  And clad in these fig leaves, they hid from their Maker.

God, of course, has seen the whole thing.  He knew where they were and what they’ve done.  He’s come to them and He’s asked some questions.

They’ve played the finger pointing game.  Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent.  They’ve made their confession and God has given His consequences.  It’s all set in motion, the whole world changed because of this moment in time.

And then, God does something.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

He could’ve just let them figure it out for themselves.  They’d broken the ONE rule.  And they had their fig leaves.  Their scratchy, falling to pieces, uncomfortable fig leaves.  They’d made their own clothes.

But He wanted better for them.

Because He works all things together for good.

And so, God Almighty, Maker of All, made clothes for Adam and Eve.

 I see so much of His tenderness in this act.  This gift He makes them says, “I love you.  You’re still mine.  I am still for you.  You are okay.  I want better for you.”

He could see that the fig leaves were not going to hold up, that they were inadequate…manmade things don’t last the way God-made things do.  All of our best efforts just fall to pieces but the things that God makes last.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and His wife and clothed them.

This is love.

He gave them better than what they had, though they were undeserving.  He gave them provision, even though the mess they made was undeniably their fault.  He gave them a gift, because He is love and He can’t be anything but Love.

This is the same God who is in our midst today.  He is still love and He still gives us better than we can make for ourselves.  He still provides, even when we’ve disobeyed and even when we’ve made our own mess.  He still gives gifts because He is love and He can’t be anything but Love.

God is patient.
God is kind.
God does not envy,
God does not boast,
God is not proud.
God does not dishonor others,
God is not self-seeking,
God is not easily angered,
God keeps no record of wrongs.
God does not delight in evil but God rejoices with the truth.
God always protects,
God always trusts,
God always hopes,
God always perseveres.